Our ability to walk alongside sufferers makes us human. This ability made the Hebrew prophets and Jesus the light of the world. To give voice to those who have no voice, to speak on behalf of those who can’t speak, to defend the vulnerable… These are the actions of God’s human incarnation.
All human beings are vulnerable. The wealthy are vulnerable to chronic anxiety and a loss of meaning. They need the Gospel to counter the ephemeral values of money, appearance, chemical pleasures, and amusement park sex.
The role of the prophet isn’t to predict the future but to change it. The prophet has a vision of a shared humanity, a realm where people look after each another. This prophetic vision begins in our own backyards. Dorothy Day (d. 1980) started in her backyard, providing shelter for New York’s homeless. The Catholic worker movement was an organic extension to that primary impulse to look out for “the least of these.”
Charitable impulses cut to the heart of social problems. They are rare because isolated acts in solidarity with the poor seem utterly insignificant. At one point Gandhi said: “Serving the poor can feel like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket. Nonetheless it’s crucial that we continue.”
The compulsion to reach out to the poor in their various forms is humanity’s hope. Like Dorothy Day and Jesus we begin by ministering to those who cross our path.